Imogen Stubbs in Orpheus Descending
30 October 2012 WOS Rating: Average Reader Rating: Reader Reviews: View and add to our user reviews Imogen Stubbs knows the work of Tennessee Williams well, following her towering performance as Amanda Wingfield in Shared Experience's Glass Menagerie and Stella in Streetcar in the West End. She delivers a very likeable turn here - in one of Williams' more modest successes - as Italian Lady Torrance. But like the play itself - her accent wavers so much in act one that it becomes confusing. This sums up the play really, as the stage is filled with so many characters, you'd think you were watching a rich Shakespeare production - whereby each piece of dialogue is connected and cause and effect is evident throughout. Unfortunately, that's not the case, as many of the supporting characters are irritating and quickly become surplus to requirements. You long for fireworks but instead this resembles a damp squib of a play. Some of the classic Tennessee Williams ingredients are evident - the setting of the Deep South, a dangerous romance between two mismatched people, a young drifter and a woman in a loveless marriage. But the set up is far more interesting than the overblown second half that follows. Sarah Frankcom's usually assured direction is lacking. She can normally be relied upon to bring a slow burning tale to life as it suits her style, so it's disappointing that she relies upon imposing music and overbearing sound effects. The first half is way too long and there are obvious places where editing could take place without losing any impact. Yet in Frankcom's hands, the play simply plods along - losing audience members at every turn. Paul Wills' set design is striking but reminds you of Williams' better plays - the 'water on glass' suggests that we are in for a much a richer evening but it's only one of two aspects of this dreary play that bear fruit. The other is Alexandra Mathie who brings much more than is on the page to the role of delusional artist Vee Talbott. She is hardly on stage but she is classic Williams, reminding you why you adore the man and his work. With so many annoying characters filling the stage, yet becoming nothing more than silly stereotypes and a directorial style that veers from over the top to snail's pace, you are far better off seeking out the Bolton Octagon's forthcoming Glass Menagerie if you want to see this wonderful playwright's work truly smoulder. - by Glenn Meads Related Content
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